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The Connected Child

by Karyn B. Purvis, Ph.D., David R. Cross, Ph.D., and Wendy Lyons SunshineMcGraw Hill; $16.95

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The Connected Child introduces techniques Drs. Purvis and Cross have used to help at-risk children overcome the problems caused by early trauma, neglect, and deprivation.

The Connected Child describes the behavioral, emotional, and relational problems adopted children often present: attachment disorder, language delays, extreme fear, chronic stress, and sensory integration dysfunction, among others. The book provides practical parenting strategies to mitigate and, ultimately, resolve these problems.

One of the strategies is designed to overcome a child’s fear by providing “felt safety”—the assurance that she is profoundly safe with her new family and in her new home. Citing real-world interactions between children and their parents, the authors provide scripts to help children move past fear and accept nurturing. After chronic fear is under control, trust between parent and child can begin to build. Other strategies, such as teaching a child to accept safe, nurturing touch, target other problems many adopted children must overcome to develop healthy relationships with their families.

The book offers concrete, practical advice to help parents develop the techniques for positive discipline, speaking authoritatively yet gently, bonding through play, touch and eye contact, and teaching life values, like kindness and respect. Many of the ideas presented—crouching to the child’s level, ensuring eye contact, and asserting parental authority—work with all children, not just those at risk. This book offers a holistic approach, to acknowledge the wounds caused a child’s early years, and adapts parenting practices to heal them.

The Connected Child is an excellent resource for parents, clinicians, and caregivers, and would be especially beneficial for parents in the pre-adoptive stage, or for those who have recently welcomed a child into their home.

Reviewed by SUE GAINOR, an adoptive parent who serves on the national board of Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption (FRUA). She lives in the Washington, D.C., area, with her husband and two sons.

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